THEY were key architects of the peace process who managed to put their own differences aside to help bring stability to the North.
David Trimble and Seamus Mallon even operated out of an office with a single telephone between them. The former First Minister and Deputy First Minister yesterday received honorary doctorates of philosophy from Dublin City University to mark the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Both criticised the current Northern Ireland Executive, but remain ultimately optimistic for the future and say the problems will be ironed out.
Amongst those who attended the ceremony were former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, David Trimble's wife Daphne, Seamus Mallon's daughter Orla and and young granddaughter Lara.
Mr Trimble appeared touched when Mr Mallon referred to the bravery of the former UUP leader and his wife Daphne which, he said, was "never fully recognised".
Describing the Good Friday Agreement as "the most important and worthwhile thing" he had managed to do in his entire career, Mr Trimble stated that what was done then would not be undone by the present difficulties.
Mr Mallon criticised the current Northern Executive for failing to address "the most important issues" over the past 10 years and said it was time it exercised its role to "deal with problems and not run away from them".
Mr Trimble also added his own reservations about the Executive, saying that it was "not delivering much to the people of Northern Ireland but its existence".
Chancellor of the University Martin McAleese said he grew up in loyalist east Belfast.
And returning today to his native city, he said: "The benign changes are palpable."